There are an estimated 37.2 trillion cells in the average adult human body. 37.2 trillion is a staggering number, especially when we remember that we all develop from a single fertilized egg cell. So how does one cell become 37.2 trillion cells? Through mitosis. Mitosis is the process of cell division, in which one cell produces two new daughter cells that are genetically identical to … Continue reading Mitosis
by Katherine J. Wu In space, no one would hear you scream. But make a quick detour down to the surface of Venus, and all bets are off. Because even if you scream on another planet with no one else around to hear it, you’ll certainly make a sound – just not quite the one you’d make on Earth. And with that cliffhanger, let’s tap … Continue reading You Asked: If you were able to talk on another planet, how would you sound?
by Christopher Gerry figures by Abagail Burrus A few weeks ago, a nurse took six gallons of blood out of my left arm; my body only holds about a gallon and a half of blood, so I wouldn’t be here if she had decided to keep it. The blood that was continuously returning to my right arm, however, was missing an important ingredient: peripheral blood … Continue reading Never Tell Me the Odds: A first-hand account of blood stem cell donation
For the first time, an inherited disorder has been reversed in babies before birth. “There are a number of conditions for which we would seek treatment in utero, but traditionally these have been non-genetic, non-inherited conditions,” Dr. Maisa Feghali, an assistant professor of maternal fetal medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, who was not involved in this study, told STAT. The disease, X-linked hypohidrotic ectodermal … Continue reading Successful treatment of a rare genetic disorder in the womb
by Fernanda Ferreira figures by Daniel Utter There are tens of thousands of buildings in São Paulo, the largest city in the Western hemisphere and Brazil’s financial center. From the sky, São Paulo looks like a fossilized forest of concrete trees. From the ground, it’s a pulsing behemoth, every avenue crammed with cars and people. The urban sprawl of Metropolitan São Paulo engulfs 39 municipalities … Continue reading Disease Never Sleeps: Yellow fever and the importance of vaccine stockpiles in emergency epidemic prevention
While celebrating Mother’s Day over brunch, don’t just thank your mom for all her love and nurture, remember to also mention mitochondria, like Leah Bury, our featured artist for June, suggests in her science-y Mother’s Day card. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells, which means they generate the energy that keeps cells (and by extension you) running. Interestingly, we inherit our mitochondria entirely from … Continue reading Mother’s Mitochondria
Hi, I’m Leah – a cell biologist and a triplet, originally from Frankfurt, Germany. Having shared a womb with my two brothers probably genetically predestined me to become a scientist, as I wanted to learn more about the fascinating ways in which organisms grow, develop, and reproduce. In my current postdoc work at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, MA, I am driven by my passion … Continue reading Leah Bury
by Emily Poulin figures by Brad Wierbowski “Have you heard of endometriosis?” As a scientist and a woman, I was embarrassed to say that I hadn’t. Although I had seen two doctors about my pelvic pain, it was a friend who first mentioned endometriosis to me. My reaction turns out to be pretty common. Although endometriosis affects about ten percent of women, many have never … Continue reading No Good Options: Fighting diagnostic and treatment challenges for women with endometriosis
Time: 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, May 16th Location: Pfizer Hall, Mallinckrodt Chemistry Labs, 12 Oxford St, Cambridge (link to directions) Speakers: Shirlee Wohl After decades of decline, mumps — once a ubiquitous childhood illness — is on the rise again. In this lecture, we’ll focus on the recent mumps outbreak right here in Massachusetts and learn about why mumps is back, why vaccinated people are getting sick, and how … Continue reading May 16 – Much Ado about Mumps: Using genomics to track virus outbreaks in Massachusetts and beyond
by Katherine J. Wu The pets in our households are all descendants of wild animals, many of which still run free today. But dogs, cats, and rodents are all domesticated to varying degrees, with a wide range of consequences for their behavior and genetics. To understand the nitty gritty of this, let’s get some terminology out of the way first. When we discuss domestication, we’re … Continue reading You Asked: How are pets different from wild animals?